The Week (US)

What does that mean?

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“We’re going to defang the virus rather than defeat it,” says Lipsitch. That’s what happened with the Spanish flu, which evolved from a deadly disease to a normal seasonal flu as human immune systems gained experience fighting it off. There’s a good chance Covid-19 will become less lethal over time, since natural selection favors strains of the virus that do not kill their hosts; if infected people are alive and walking around, they can infect more people. Virologist­s expect Covid19 to re-emerge among the unvaccinat­ed mostly in winter, but over time to become more like the common cold—causing runny noses, congestion, a run-down feeling. (About 20 percent of colds are caused by four different kinds of coronaviru­ses that have long been in circulatio­n among humans.) SARS-CoV-2 will likely join a long list of viruses that we just have to live with. “As the old saying goes,” said

Dr. Ashish K. Jha of Brown University, “pandemics end with a whimper, not with a bang.”

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